Kantar Media study confirms link between Twitter activity and TV viewing in the UK

Twitter activity can provide key insights into TV viewing for brands and broadcasters, complementing existing TV ratings. 

A Year in the Life of TV and Twitter – published today by Kantar Media – provides the first in-depth look at the relationship between what we say and read about on Twitter and what we watch in the UK.

The independent report from the world leader in audience research finds that Twitter not only has the power to boost TV viewing during broadcast but that smaller channels and shows can boost their share of voice by employing effective Twitter strategies.

Based on detailed examination of a year’s worth of exclusive data from both Twitter and BARB, excluding news and live sports programmes, its key findings include:

There is a ‘Twitter TV Top 30’: In terms of volume of tweets, the top 30 TV series (excluding live sport and news programmes) account for 50% of all measured UK Twitter TV activity and 9% of viewing volume.

  • TV Tweet levels broadly correlate with TV channel shares and programme/series viewing figures across a broad time period, although some channels over-perform on Twitter relative to audience share.
  • Of the TV Tweets analysed, there was a noticeable skew towards entertainment, talent shows, constructed reality, documentaries, soaps, special events and some dramas, including Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, where there is a cult or younger following. 
  • Twitter TV activity correlates with audience size at a broad level: the shows with the largest volume of Twitter TV activity tend to have higher audiences. However smaller shows can gain disproportionate levels of Twitter activity if they are ‘social TV friendly’, for example encouraging participation or skewing to a younger audience.
  • Twitter activity has a direct, positive influence on viewing figures during broadcast for 11% of programmes, boosting audiences by an estimated 2% during those shows.

“People have always talked about TV with friends and family, and Twitter extends these conversations outside the living room,” says Andy Brown, Global CEO of Kantar Media.  “This extensive study illustrates the positive correlation between Twitter and TV in the UK, but also shows that it is not as straightforward as assuming that a high number of viewers results in a large volume of tweets. ‘Twitter friendly’ shows that encourage tweets during the broadcast or have a younger, evangelical audience for example, can punch above their weight, thereby distorting overall perceptions.  This illustrates how proactive encouragement of social TV activity can positively impact programming schedules and advertising campaigns.”

Notable specifics for the 12-month period include:

  • The X-Factor delivered 9.4m Tweets over the year, winning the title for highest annual number of Tweets for a series and accounting for 8.6% of all TV related Tweets across the year and 25% of all Tweets in the weeks it was on air.
  • The Brits was the top single broadcast show with more than 4m Tweets
  • The Most Tweeted about drama programme was the 50th anniversary edition of Doctor Who with 501,000 Tweets.
  • Love Actually, shown on Christmas Day, was the most Tweeted about film of the year, with 150,000 Tweets, beating Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (shown on 22 December) which had the highest live audience.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly given their fanbase, the most Tweeted about documentary was Crazy About One Direction, which generated more than 132,000 Tweets.

Joel Lunenfeld, Global Vice President of Sales Strategy at Twitter, comments: "Twitter and TV is a powerful combination for programme makers and advertisers alike. This study by Kantar Media is the first time that we have seen those patterns of consumer behaviour tracked over the course of a year in the UK. It provides a fascinating set of insights that will help the industry better understand and harness the power of social TV.”

A Year in the Life of TV and Twitter in the UK is available to download in full here.

About the study

A Year in the Life of TV and Twitter  is an independent overview of Twitter and its relationship to television, with the main focus being the correlation between TV viewing levels and Twitter activity.

The report is the result of extensive analysis by Kantar Media using their analysis software for viewing data and Twitter data related to UK TV shows.   Its primary sources are data tracked by Twitter in the UK, combined with TV viewing data from BARB. The period covered encompasses one year of TV, from 1 June 2013 to 31 May 2014.  It takes in over 110 million TV-related tweets, from over 13 million unique users. 

(Note: the data relates to live broadcasts and does not include VOD.  Neither does it include social TV around live sports, news and special events).